Why is BJP-run Maharashtra Punishing Hindu-Run Schools Using RTE?

Unaided non-minority (i.e. Hindu run) schools in Maharashtra have decided to boycott the Right to Education (RTE) Act quota admissions next academic year if the state fails to reimburse them for the previous years by December 31.

All unaided non-minority schools have to reserve 25% seats at the entry level for students from economically weaker sections. Admissions to these seats are conducted online by the local civic authorities through a lottery. Schools have been promised approximately Rs 14,000 per annum per child from the state – which anyway falls short of the true expenditure per child in many private schools.

Rajendra Singh, president, Maharashtra Unaided Private School Association, said they were “tired of following up” with government officials, holding protest marches and meeting ministers for the past two years.

“In spite of assurances from the government, we have not received any money. The dues up to 2015 are about Rs 300 crore. If you add the past two years, it is much higher,” he said.

Several unaided schools associations met on Saturday at the Saket Gyanpeeth College in Kalyan.

Bharat Mallik, ex-president of Unaided School Managment Association, said, “If we do not get reimbursements, how would we pay teachers? Why has the government made promises they can’t keep? We can’t charge any extra fees for these students and the additional burden is making it difficult to run schools.”

SC Kedia, secretary, Unaided School Forum, said, “The biggest question for us today is how do we run schools properly if we do not get the promised reimbursement. Since five years we followed government directives. Now that we have given an ultimatum to the government, we hope we receive the compensation before December 31.”

School education secretary Nandkumar said the reimbursements can be expected soon. “The payment is pending but it is expected soon. It was delayed due to procedural issues.

The association has demanded that the government relax conditions for small private schools in rural areas which do not have large space or funds to provide a ground, library and others facilities, all of which are strictly enforced by RTE along with other requirements like teacher/student ratio, teacher eligibility etc.

The controversial RTE Act which was introduced by UPA-1 in 2009, after its enabling legislation 93rd Amendment to Constitution was passed in 2004 within months of the Congress-led UPA coalition being sworn in, applies only to non-minority schools, while minority schools (even Govt. aided minority schools) are exempt from it.

Minority recognition is granted to schools through an opaque process controlled by the minority-controlled quasi-Governmental body NCMEI (National Commission for Minority Educational Institutions) again set up during the UPA era. As it stands today, only 6 communities – Muslims, Christians, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and Parsis are designated as minorities by the GOI under the NCMEI Act. Apart from this, linguistic minorities can also vie for minority status – but again, this is totally at the discretion of NCMEI and State education departments.

Unaided non-minority schools in Maharashtra and many other states have been struggling for reimbursements for long. In June 2016, 16000 private Hindu run schools in Maharashtra had  planned not to reopen schools after summer vacation, in order to protest against delay in reimbursement of fees of students admitted under RTE.

But all the chaos and disruption caused by RTE seems to have left the Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar untouched – his priorities appear to be elsewhere, in playing to the galleries, by advocating more curbs on the already beleaguered private Hindu-run schools.

Suggested reading

Explaining the 93rd Amendment to the BJP

https://www.hindupost.in/politics/design-rte-part/

https://www.hindupost.in/politics/design-rte-part-ii/

https://www.hindupost.in/politics/anti-hindu-rte-right-education-law-shutting-schools/

https://swarajyamag.com/topic/RTE


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